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Death ray, fiddlesticks--it doesn't even slow them down.
December 13, 2006 11:55 PM   Subscribe

Google Patent Search
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The pictures change every time you refresh.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:56 PM on December 13, 2006


Though the feature isn't in Google yet, some of the neatest stuff done with the patent databse are visualizations of webs of patent citations. Really pretty pictures are here. You can read some serious articles on the subject here and here.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:06 AM on December 14, 2006


The first one I got was Device for cooling infant's brain. Awesome!
posted by martinrebas at 12:09 AM on December 14, 2006


That's pretty cool. Did I miss the "display patents in chronological order" function, or did they somehow not build this useful feature even though it would probably take very little manpower to add?
posted by Kwantsar at 12:13 AM on December 14, 2006


They've got my four. (1 2 3 4)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:23 AM on December 14, 2006


They've got jessamyn's two.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:30 AM on December 14, 2006


Wow. About time. I've read a few articles in my life on 'behind the scenes at the patent office' and it sounds like a nightmare. Its a classic example of the many body problem where each patent in the system has to be compared to every other patent in its general field to make sure it isn't a duplicate. You hear stories about how they had to reinforce the desks as they kept collapsing under the weight of 16ft high stacks of patent applications. you hear about patent applications sticking out of every desk drawer, shelf, filing cabinet, closet, corner, crevice, and cranny. you hear about piles of applications to the ceiling lining every hallway. I've heard it compared to Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil', "only more so." And millions of applications keep pouring in every year. I hope this helps those poor suckers. Now we just need home fabricating engines that can read schematics and our domestic supply of ornamental toy skunks and disposable floating flashlights is ensured!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:37 AM on December 14, 2006


Meh. I expected better from Google, to be honest. To start with, they apparently only cover US Patents, which makes it similar to the USPTO's own patent search engine, only with a better interface. It's probably derived from it, too.

The European Patent Office's Espacenet website is far superior, if only because it has a worldwide coverage.

And, sexyrobot, patent offices were like that some ten years ago. In the meantime, they've developed their own internal search tools, which are rather more powerful than these free Internet services (but that they can't make available to the public because they'd be competing with commercial services like Derwent).
posted by Skeptic at 1:15 AM on December 14, 2006


well thank god for that...can i still keep my home fabricating engine?
posted by sexyrobot at 1:28 AM on December 14, 2006


Megatron, muh'fuckaz.

Also, Monkey Doll!
posted by sparkletone at 1:33 AM on December 14, 2006


Oh, I almost forgot about Penn Jillette's stimulating hot tub.

Yeah. How could I forget that?
posted by sparkletone at 1:37 AM on December 14, 2006


Futuristic Toy Weapon
Shark Protector Suit
Toupee
posted by GavinR at 1:45 AM on December 14, 2006


Nice! It appears to convert USPTO's TIFF patent images into PNGs, thus avoiding the necessity of additional browser plugins.

The main page pictures may refresh through a smaller set: I saw the Device for Cooling an Infant's Brain and several others go by repeatedly.
posted by cenoxo at 1:45 AM on December 14, 2006


There will be those who, as always, will find something to criticize/condemn/complain about any new service or offering. That's how they get their rocks off. Pity them. But gee, this thing called Google just keeps getting better and better. I wish I had had the money/foresight/courage/luck to buy shares at the time of their IPO. And who amongst us Metafites doesn't think the same thing? Go Google!
posted by vac2003 at 2:06 AM on December 14, 2006


> similar to the USPTO's own patent search engine, only with a better interface

Remember how when Google first appeared and we all poked at it a little bit and we were all going, 'well, it's nice, but it's just like AltaVista only with a better interface,' and we went back to using AltaVista and forgot all about Google? Yeah.
posted by ardgedee at 3:25 AM on December 14, 2006


I can't figure out the underwear patent. Somehow the cross-hatching represents "shiny opaque fabric" and "matte translucent fabric," which sounds kinky enough, but it just looks like the designer codified the various possible stains. Ewwww.
posted by ancientgower at 5:17 AM on December 14, 2006


This one will always hold a special place in my heart: Method of exercising a cat

Especially since (a) it references a patent for "Semiconductor laser weapon trainer and target designator for live fire", and (b) it is referenced by "Method and apparatus for automatically exercising a curious animal", which is simply the existing "invention" but put on a swivel pole. Completely disregarding whether the original "method of exercising" deserves a patent, yeah, this "advance" deserves a patent. Sure...
posted by inigo2 at 6:23 AM on December 14, 2006


When this was originally posted, most of the images were showing hideous "no image" gifs that were blown up from 20x20. Seems like that's fixed, but that was a pretty glaring ugliness.
posted by smackfu at 6:28 AM on December 14, 2006


Wow. My grandfather had dozens. (Although he was probably just the assignee for underlings for a lot of them.)
posted by dmd at 6:43 AM on December 14, 2006


ChicagoFilter: Portable toilet.
posted by rlk at 6:56 AM on December 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Flying Car.

I really need one of these.
posted by marxchivist at 7:15 AM on December 14, 2006


Finally, the patent for the interweb!
posted by parmanparman at 7:25 AM on December 14, 2006


And, the original Zippo Lighter patent. This is so cool. Wonder if I can find the manufacturing technique for Jelly Bellies.
posted by parmanparman at 7:31 AM on December 14, 2006


I wish I had had the money/foresight/courage/luck to buy shares at the time of their IPO. And who amongst us Metafites doesn't think the same thing? Go Google!

The ones who did? I certainly would have if I'd had an investment account at the time. *sigh*
posted by delmoi at 7:32 AM on December 14, 2006


Some damned entertaining combinations in those first five images. Someone is probably already out there trying to read them like tarot cards.

Google Patent Search Oracle, anyone?
posted by squasha at 7:50 AM on December 14, 2006


Maybe Google has a hidden agenda: this makes it even easier to see exactly how the current patent system is completely FUBAR. I mean c'mon, as noted above, a patent for getting your cat to chase a laser pointer?!? I can hear the squad cars screeching to a halt in front of the ASPCA this moment, and every cat owner in American will be headed to jail for unpaid royalties...
posted by twsf at 7:58 AM on December 14, 2006


Fortunately, my laser pointer uses VISIBLE light, while the patent is for a 'beam of invisible light'.
posted by DesbaratsDays at 8:25 AM on December 14, 2006


I don't think this will give different results than searching on the USPTO site, but it *is* a much nicer interface. At the PTO site, you need to use their funny operators and syntax, but Google, is well, Google-style. An example, say you want to search for patents invented by Smith, owned by Jonesco, and issued in 2000, but don't use the word "resistor":

PTO: in/smith AND an/Jonesco AND isd/1/1/2000->12/31/2000 ANDNOT spec/resistor

Google: use the advanced page and put the right words in the right fields.

Eliminates the learning curve, and free! I expect I'll be using this regularly.
posted by Joe Invisible at 8:32 AM on December 14, 2006


To those who think the PTO issues patents too freely, consider that the laser-pointer-cat-exerciser was issued more than ten years ago. The climate is now much more hostile to applicants, probably because of the public reaction to the cat exerciser, the crustless PB&J, the method of swinging on a swing, and others. If you have the time and inclination, you can check out the thread starting here, or cut to the chase in this post.

Also, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the standard for determining whether an invention is obvious early next year. The conventional wisdom is that the new standard will make it more difficult for inventors to get patents. Tons on KSR v. Teleflex here.
posted by Joe Invisible at 8:52 AM on December 14, 2006


Crustless PB&J.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:09 AM on December 14, 2006


It's patents like this one that proves to me that having way too much time on one's hands is by no means a new phenomenon.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:23 AM on December 14, 2006


It would be even nicer if Google also allowed one to search published patent applications.
posted by gyc at 9:43 AM on December 14, 2006


Flying Machine.
posted by signal at 10:19 AM on December 14, 2006


One thing that's odd is how much the drawings on the modern applications suck, it's as if they're intentionally done in an old-school patent-application-style.
posted by signal at 10:28 AM on December 14, 2006


Filing date: December 7, 1912
Issue date: November 23, 1915


It must have been depressing to be the inventor of the improved Buggy Whip.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:01 AM on December 14, 2006


Is the title of this post a Charles Adams reference? I know I've read that somewhere.
posted by brundlefly at 11:55 AM on December 14, 2006


Joe Invisible, I actually do agree that (minus the business-process patents) the PTO has gotten better, however -- sure, the initial cat-exercise patent is from 10 years ago, but the one building off it (whose link I munged in my other post), consists of a laser pointer attached to a rotating fan, and was issued in 2004. So methinks they still have some issues to work out...
posted by inigo2 at 12:14 PM on December 14, 2006


I have no idea what happened with the link to Penn Jillette's ... stimulating hot tub.

I have paid the suitable price for my lack of link checking.
posted by sparkletone at 1:00 PM on December 14, 2006


I don't think this will give different results than searching on the USPTO site, but it *is* a much nicer interface.

Exactly - the same way Google keeps doing, as with mapping - not a substantial improvement in overall function, just a neater, quicker, more user-friendly way of achieving that function. I had started searching the USPTO database (my son has an invention that I can hardly believe hasn't already been patented) and got frustrated and put off the project until I had more patience. Now I feel I can tackle this and get more efficient results, so I'll be using it, all right. Thanks, WGP.
posted by soyjoy at 1:49 PM on December 14, 2006


At my company, we're not allowed to do any patent searches on our own, since we expose the company to greater liability in case we accidentally turn up something that the company is infringing, or something like that. Only the legal team is allowed to search for patents. So it seems like it's better not to know whether something is patented, if you're likely to use it or make it in the future.

Can anyone explain this? Will Googling an idea you have expose you to liability? I wonder whether not knowing about a patent will be a good legal excuse anymore, now that Google has made it so easy to find them.
posted by purple_frogs at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2006


Hey... IT SEARCHES THE TEXT OF OLD TIFF-IMAGE PATENTS! Cool! It's OCR-ing all the pre-1990s stuff. You can actually search on Nikola Tesla's text content. But it does make OCR-ish errors. Thinks that "Q" is "G" and vice versa. Replaces badly printed "R" with "E."

Here's a nice perpetual-motion machine from 1871


The Cook Device
http://www.google.com/patents?vid=USPAT119825
posted by billb at 3:39 PM on December 14, 2006


> At my company, we're not allowed to do any patent searches on our own ... Can anyone explain this?

It's for the same reason professional writers stick their fingers in their ears and sing, "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU, I CAN'T HEEEAAAR YOU," after you tell them that you've got a really neat idea for a story. That writer is instantly vulnerable to accusations of creative theft. Your employer is open to lawsuit by any patent owner if they have evidence that you are selling something they came up with first. The easy, plausible defense ('I never met the person,' 'I never heard that idea,' 'I never saw the patent') has just become expensive, messy, and very time consuming.

Intellectual property liability is a cruel mistress.
posted by ardgedee at 4:15 PM on December 14, 2006


Thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you!
posted by caddis at 5:15 PM on December 14, 2006


Two words: monkey astronaut
posted by rbellon at 6:29 PM on December 14, 2006


This is actual correspondance I had with the inventor of the Method of Exercising a Cat:


Date: Mon, 08 Jan 2001 08:59:12 -0500
From: Kevin Amiss
To: George Nachman
Subject: Re: Negotiation

That standard fee is $20,000. Thank you, Kevin Amiss.

George Nachman wrote:

> Kevin,
>
> This is regarding your patent, US05443036. I would like to talk to you to
> negotiate an agreement wherein I could exercise my cat with a laser
> pointer. I would be willing to pay a reasonable flat rate for a one-year
> license. Please let me know what your conditions are, and I'm sure we can
> work something out.
>
> Thanks,
> George


posted by jewzilla at 7:57 PM on December 14, 2006 [12 favorites]


Hilarious, jewzilla. Back to the old ball o' yarn for you, I guess.

Yes, brundlefly, the title is a reference to a Charles Addams cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker on May 16, 1953.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:11 PM on December 14, 2006


Dolls formed in the likeness of the Lord Jesus with a movable head and extremities
posted by caddis at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2006


jewzilla: that patent alone is sufficient grounds for nuling the US patent office from orbit.
posted by signal at 10:25 AM on December 15, 2006


Synth dorks, rejoice. Oh - and anyone with a case of the farts, too (be sure to check out Figure 1 - pretty much the best picture on the entire internet ever).
posted by hypocritical ross at 9:01 PM on December 15, 2006


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